Sunday, December 11, 2016

12. Meath – The Hill of Tara

While it might not be as otherworldly as Angkor Wat, as palatial as Petra or as pointy as the Pyramids, the Hill of Tara is just as important culturally to the country of Ireland as these majestic locations are to theirs. From neolithic times up to the 12th century, the Hill of Tara was of huge significance in the ruling of Ireland. Though it is now believed that Tara was not in fact a true seat of kingship, it was long held as a sacred site associated with kingship rituals and was the ceremonial capital of the High Kings.
However, it wasn’t just kings that Tara was home to. Celtic pagan druids also employed Tara as their base. Unsurprisingly, it was here that St Patrick’s first came to when he returned to Ireland, setting up the mother of all grudge-matches with the druids, which St Patrick won by TKO.
While Tara might now appear at first like a hill with a bad case of the mumps, closer inspection and reading of the hill gives a fascinating insight into life back then. Perhaps the most interesting feature at Tara is its Lia Fáil, or Stone of Destiny. Seated atop the hill’s most prominent mound, this stone was said to scream once the would-be High King met a number of challenges and was the spot where he was then conferred with kingship. Today the Lia Fáil no longer screams, which is probably a good thing, but does give a damn fine panoramic view over Meath and the surrounding countryside.

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